Jani Jo Wood, Assistant Public Defender, joined the Appellate Division of the Public Defender Office in February 2011. Prior to joining the PDO, Ms. Wood was an attorney in private practice for thirteen years specializing in state and federal appeals and post-conviction matters. Before her private practice career, she was staff attorney to the Honorable Charles F. Baird at the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals from 1997 to 1998. From 1996 to 1997, she was a staff attorney with Inmate Legal Services with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Institutional Division. Ms. Wood has been an adjunct professor at the University of Houston Law Center since 1999.
She is on the Boards of Directors of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Association (TCDLA), the Innocence Project of Texas, and the Harris County Criminal Lawyers’ Association. In October 2011, her article on state writs of habeas corpus was published in TCDLA’s magazine, Voice for the Defense.
Ms. Wood has argued numerous cases at the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit as well as the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and other state appellate courts.
In 2013, Ms. Wood was awarded the HCCLA Lawyer of the Year award and the TCDLA Pro Bono Lawyer of the year award.
Ms. Wood has been licensed to practice law since 1994. She received her J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center. She received her Master’s degree in English from the State University of New York at Albany and her Bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, graduating magna cum laude. She is Board Certified in Criminal Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.